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Raub v. Moon Lake Property Owners' Association

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

October 27, 2016

DAVID RAUB, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MOON LAKE PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OVERRULING IN PART AND SUSTAINING IN PART OBJECTIONS, AND CORRECTING CLERICAL ERROR

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs David and William Raub are brothers who own two parcels of property in the Moon Lake Resort in Greenwood Township, Michigan, located in Oscoda County. On October 5, 2005 Plaintiffs filed a ten-count complaint against Defendants Moon Lake Property Owners' Association, Linda Argue, and Thomas McCauley (the “Moon Lake Defendants”), Greenwood Township, James Hervilla, Fred Lindsey, and Larry Mathias, (the “Township Defendants”) and Oscoda County and Tim Whiting (the “County Defendants”) asserting the following counts: 1)

         Conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 2) retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 3) abuse of process in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 4) violation of First Amendment rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 5) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq; 6) violation of Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”); 7) violation of the Marketable Record Title Act, Mich. Compl. Laws § 565.101; 8) violation of the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (“MPWDCRA”), Mich. Comp. Laws § 37.1302; 9) violation of the MPWDCRA, Mich. Comp. Laws § 37.1602; and 10) violation of StilleDerosesett-Hale Single State Construction Code Act. See Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs allege that after protesting that a pool within the Moon Lake Resort was not ADA compliant, Defendants conspired to “launch[] a multi-front campaign to squelch the Raub's advocacy in the ADA Compliance dispute.” Compl. ¶ 2. As a part of this conspiracy, Defendants allegedly enforced blight ordinances against Plaintiffs, filed a lien on Plaintiffs' property for non-payment of $45 in annual dues, upon which Defendants subsequently obtained a default judgment, and filed a nuisance lawsuit against Plaintiffs in state court. Compl. ¶¶ 8-11.

         I.

         The case was reassigned to this Court on April 8, 2016. See ECF No. 18. Following a scheduling conference on May 17, 2016, a scheduling order was entered on May 18, 2016. See ECF No. 22. The matter was then referred to Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris for pretrial matters on July 6, 2016. See ECF No. 28.

         On July 5, 2016 the Township Defendants filed a motion for a protective order, seeking to strike certain of Plaintiffs' document productions requests and interrogatories as irrelevant and not proportional to the case. See ECF No. 27. On July 15, 2016 the County Defendants similarly moved for a protective order. See ECF No. 31. Then, on July 25, 2016 the Moon Lake Defendants filed a motion for a protective order seeking to strike similar document productions requests and interrogatories as irrelevant and not proportional to the case. In each case, Plaintiffs sought to discover all computer hard drives, telephone logs, emails, GPS data, IP addresses, photos/videos, calendars, contacts, documents, bookmarks, device settings, app data, text messages, voicemail, device PIN numbers, backup data, and billing statements of the County, Township, and Association for the past 10 years, and the computer and email passwords of all individual users. Plaintiffs sought the same discovery from the individual Defendants, seeking to discover the hard drives, emails, and passwords for Defendants' personal computers and their phone records and text messages for the past 10 years.

         In response, on August 1, 2016 Plaintiffs filed a motion to compel the production of certain insurance policies, on-site inspections, all requested discovery, and billing addresses and phone numbers in order to obtain third-party subpoenas to Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. See ECF No. 37. Plaintiffs further requested that Defendants' motions be denied as untimely. Id. Finally, on August 5, 2016 the County Defendants filed a motion to compel the depositions of Plaintiffs based on representations by Counsel that the Plaintiffs would not be available until October. See ECF No. 40.

         The magistrate judge held a hearing on all pending motions on August 15, 2016, which lasted two and a half hours. Thereafter, on August 17, 2016 the magistrate judge issued an order granting Defendants' motions for protective orders, denying Plaintiff's motions to compel, and granting in part the County Defendants' motion to compel depositions. See ECF No. 46. Plaintiffs then timely filed objections. See ECF Nos. 47, 48.

         On October 12, 2016 Plaintiffs filed notice that they had accepted the County Defendants' offer of judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68(a). See ECF No. 52. Judgment has therefore been entered against Defendants Oscoda County and Tim Whiting. See ECF No. 54. The objections as they relate to the County Defendants will therefore be disregarded as moot.

         II.

         The decision and order of a non-dispositive motion by a magistrate judge will be upheld unless it is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); Massey v. City of Ferndale, 7 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 1993). A district judge shall consider such objections and may modify or set aside any portion of the magistrate judge's order found to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). “The ‘clearly erroneous' standard applies only to the magistrate judge's factual findings; legal conclusions are reviewed under the plenary ‘contrary to law' standard . . . . Therefore, [the reviewing court] must exercise independent judgment with respect to the magistrate judge's conclusions of law.” Haworth, Inc. v. Herman Miller, Inc., 162 F.R.D. 289, 291 (W.D. Mich. 1995) (citing Gandee v. Glaser, 785 F.Supp. 684, 686 (S.D. Ohio 1992)). “An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure.” Ford Motor Co. v. United States, 2009 WL 2922875, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 9, 2009)).

         A.

         In their first objection Plaintiffs argue that the magistrate judge erred in finding that Defendants did not waive their ability to object to Plaintiffs' discovery requests by filing untimely responses. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), as effective on December 1, 2015, governs the scope of discovery in civil cases:

Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in ...

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